Six biggest lessons university has taught me | Top Universities

Six biggest lessons university has taught me

By Nthatisi H

Updated May 3, 2022 Updated May 3, 2022

Going to university was the best way for me to get the qualifications and experience I needed to become a successful engineer, but I’ve realised that being a student is about so much more than the degree you get at the end.  

It’s about learning new things, making friends and figuring out who you are as an adult. A lot of the lessons I’ve learned outside of the classroom have been just as valuable as what I’ve learned about my subject.  

As cliché as it sounds, university has changed my life for the better. As an Electronics and Communication Engineering student at Lovel Professional University in India, here are the six biggest lessons I’ve learned: 

How to be independent 

When I first arrived at university, I was overwhelmed by the independence that came with living away from home. For the first time in my life, I was responsible for managing my own time, budget, and workload.  

It can take a while to get used to, but it became incredibly empowering for me. I have learned how to juggle all of my responsibilities and still make time for the things I enjoy. 

Having to do everything for myself helped me to grow into a more confident person. I have learned to trust my own judgement and to stand up for myself when necessary. I also choose things that take me out of my comfort zone, both in my academic work and in my personal life.  

Last semester I took a maths class knowing I’m not particularly good at it. Failing the class would have been a risk to my overall success on my course, but I chose to push myself and with hard work and believe in myself, it paid off.  

Time management is essential 

As an added bonus to my newfound independence, my time management skills have improved significantly. 

In high school, I would often procrastinate on assignments and end up scrambling to finish them at the last minute. Now that I'm juggling a full course load, a part-time job and extracurricular activities, I've had to get much better at time management to stay on top of everything. 

I set aside time each week to plan out my upcoming assignments and tasks. I've also become much better at using my time wisely and not letting myself get distracted by other things when I should be studying. 

As an engineer, I will be expected to work on complex projects with a great deal of planning, many moving parts and tight deadlines. Learning better time management now will ensure that I can complete projects on time and within budget. 

It's okay to ask for help  

We all need help at some point whether at home, school or work, but I used to feel  shy or stupid asking questions when I thought I should be able to understand things myself. 

The story of the old Ojibwe chief and his son is a great example to highlight the importance of asking for help when needed. The chief challenges his son to move a rock if he is to become the new chief, but the son’s strength alone is not enough. It is only with his father’s help that the rock moves, teaching him that you cannot truly lead without the help of others. 

There have been many times when I've been struggling with an assignment or a concept in class, and reaching out to a friend or professor for help has made all the difference. I realised that asking for help doesn't make me weak, it shows that I'm willing to learn and grow.  

It’s also something that is encouraged at university with group projects and opportunities for collaboration with course mates, as it’s reflective of life in the workplace. 

The importance of building a network 

One of the great things about university is the diversity of the student body. There are students from all different backgrounds and cultures, with a wide range of experiences and perspectives. 

At first, I was a bit intimidated by studying with so many people, but once I settled in I realised everyone is in the same boat. I’ve learned so much from my friends, coursemates and even lecturers from all different backgrounds.  

I've also come to realise that networking is important, both professionally and socially. Many of the professors at university know people in the industry and can help you to find internships, or opportunities once you graduate. My Control Systems lecturer helped me to get my first internship. One of my friends was able to get a job at a company because she knew someone who worked there.  

Networking is a valuable skill that I hope to continue to develop throughout my career. On a personal level, I've made some great friends who I know I can count on. 

Critical thinking and problem-solving  

Critical thinking is about solving problems, being creative and thinking in more abstract and conceptual ways than simply learning facts. 

Critical thinking is something that universities encourage from their students because it makes us challenge the course material, ask important questions and learn new things from each other. It brings fresh perspectives to the table. 

My engineering classes are conducted using problem-based learning, where we learn by solving issues and exchanging ideas in a cooperative environment. The teacher acts as a facilitator, providing resources and guiding us through the process of finding our own solutions.  

I know that these skills will be essential in the corporate world where I will need to assess problems and come up with innovative solutions on a daily basis. 

Discover yourself beyond your degree  

There are so many opportunities available at university, from joining societies and clubs to taking up new hobbies. This is a chance to explore different interests and find out what you're really good at. 

I was part of the Shalom society that focused on giving clothes to children in need. I was also a member of the English club, and we used to go for picnics. From these experiences, I learned that I'm passionate about giving back to the community and helping others. 

 

Now that I'm in my final year of university, I can honestly say that it has been one of the best experiences of my life. I've grown and learned so much, both as a student and as a person. And I know that the skills and knowledge I've acquired will stay with me long after I graduate. 

So if you're considering going to university, don't hesitate. It truly is a life-changing experience. 

This article was originally published in May 2022 .

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